#Me Too- But . . .


The #metoo movement.  It’s everywhere these days.  And in some ways for good reason.  But I swear I can’t be the only one who has very mixed feelings about this whole phenomenon.  On the one hand I’m glad creeps like Harvey Weinstein are being exposed.  On the other hand, part of me is worried that this is turning into a witch hunt in which every woman who accuses a man of sexual impropriety is immediately believed & the man is immediately condemned with no evidence required whatsoever.  Now I understand that for many, many years it was quite the opposite but that doesn’t excuse throwing away all sense of logic & just believing every accusation we hear while dispensing with any sense of due process.me too.jpg

Also, I have not been raped so I cannot propose to suggest how a rape victim (male or female) “should” behave after such a horrifying event.  But what I can say is that, like most other women, I have experienced a certain amount of sexual harassment in my life.  Just for context I will explain a bit of what I’ve experienced & how I handled it.

When I was in college I worked at a restaurant where I had a manager who had a tendency to make sexualized remarks/jokes.  I was very uncomfortable around him, especially after a fellow server told me this manager had been making sexual remarks about me behind my back.  Later that night this man had the gall to make such a joke to my face.  I immediately responded by telling him he could not talk to me like that.  I told him “This is my job & I expect to be respected, especially by someone who is a manager.”   I walked out of that building terrified that he was going to find some reason to get me fired.  But you know what actually happened?  One of the other managers spoke to me about it (because he apparently reported to her than an “incident” had happened) & I explained how uncomfortable he had made me.  She told me she had spoken to him about the behavior & how it was unacceptable.  From that day forward I had zero problems with this guy.  He actually made an effort to be nice to me & I was actually disappointed when he left to go to another restaurant several months later.me too 2.png

Now I’m not excusing his initial behavior.  But I’m showcasing how my response shut it down immediately & how we were able to work past this incident to still work together.  I understand not every case is going to end like this.  But my point is that, especially as women, the behavior we tolerate is the behavior we’re going to get.  So if you don’t like how you’re being treated, SAY something, DO something!  Don’t just smile & nod & hope it gets better.tolerate quote

The other incident of sexual harassment I’d like to share was actually much more hideous.  A former employer of mine, whom I had greatly admired & trusted, started sending me texts asking for sex & offering to buy me liquor & meet me at a hotel.  Now this man was married & over twice my age!  I was horrified.  Absolutely horrified- perhaps even moreso because I knew his wife & mother.  It was a very precarious situation too because I had been hoping to receive a letter of recommendation from him.  But I also knew that I couldn’t mess around with this kind of thing.  There was no way in hell I was meeting him at a hotel.  So I immediately shut him down & told him what amounted to a big, fat “hell no.”  And then I erased his number from my phone.  As it turned out, a few months later I found out that this man actually had a history of questionable sexual behavior, & several years down the road I found out he had been formally accused of sexual harassment by another employee.

The point of all this is: yes, sexual harassment happens to most women, even when we are in no way asking for it.  And it SUCKS.  But a lot of times we have the power to stop it.  Or at least escape it.  I’m not excusing the behavior; it’s totally wrong.  But it is NOT the same thing as sexual assault or rape.  Yet what I’m starting to notice is that a lot of women are conflating sexual harassment with rape.  Or worse yet their own sexual regret with rape.aziz ansari

The case that particularly brings this to light is the case of Aziz Ansari.  If you’re not familiar with him, he’s a comedian who prides himself on being a feminist.  BUT he’s now being accused of sexual assault by a woman he took on a date a year ago.  The trouble is this: I’ve read through the woman’s statement on their encounter & while I find Ansari’s behavior revolting in many ways, what I’m reading in no way sounds like true sexual assault- certainly not rape.  There are so many instances where the accuser relates being uncomfortable, yet she admits that she did not speak up about how she was feeling.  For example, she was uncomfortable with how quickly Ansari wanted to leave the restaurant, yet she didn’t ask to stay longer & still willingly went back to his apartment.  The woman admits “Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points.”  At no point does she relate that he was physically forcing her to engage in any sort of sex.  Nor does she state that she ever unequivocally said “no” or “stop” or anything of the sort.  Once again, I’m not saying Ansari shouldn’t have read her physical cues that she wasn’t interested.  He clearly should have.  But what I’m getting out of this story is that the woman didn’t have the strength to say no (for whatever reason) & is now trying to cry foul to make up for her own sexual regret.  Sexual regret ≠ rape!  It just doesn’t!  Am I crazy for thinking that?  Am I victim-blaming?  I honestly don’t think so but I’m sure I will be accused of it before long.  (Even the New York Times is standing up for Aziz Ansari, so that ought to tell you something about how stupid this situation is!)

no means no.jpg

No means no, but we do actually need to SAY it!

When it comes to the cases against Harvey Weinstein, some of them are pretty clearly rape.  But I still have to ask myself why any woman in her right mind would agree to hold a “business” meeting with a man she doesn’t know (or barely knows) in a hotel room.  And worse yet, when he answered the door in a bathrobe, I’m legitimately confused as to why these women didn’t just walk away.  I really don’t see how that wasn’t a huge red flag!  I cannot help but wonder if some of these women begrudgingly went along with sex with him because they thought it would help their careers.  I mean, these women cannot have been so naive as to not know that the term casting couch exists for a reason!  Again that does NOT make the concept ok.  But the fact of the matter is if a woman consents to sex in order to try to advance her career (or any other reason), that is NOT rape.  Is it unethical & gross?  Sure.  But it’s NOT rape.  Again, if Weinstein truly forced these women into it, then, yes, it was rape.  But the sad truth is if they aren’t reporting it until now there isn’t much that can be done about it.  Any physical evidence is long gone.regret does not equal rape

I can certainly understand why women don’t always report sexual assault & rape, particularly if the perpetrator is someone in power.  But the problem is that if women don’t report these crimes, the men are still out there, free to terrorize other women.  Plus, if we women don’t stand up for ourselves, who will?  Furthermore, if we wait 5, 10, or 20 years or more to call out the men who’ve abused us, how can we expect real justice?  It’s not like there is going to be any real evidence left at that point.  And as much as it sucks, rape is a serious charge & a man SHOULDN’T be sent to prison for such a crime if the only evidence against him is a woman’s word.  There is simply too much room for error with that.   (E.g. Duke lacrosse case, the erroneous Rolling Stones article about the rape at UVA, Jemma Beale, etc.)false rape claim

What it boils down to is this: I believe women are the intellectual equals of men.  We are obviously not physically equal in the sense that we ARE different & that the vast majority of men are physically stronger than women.  That’s just biology.  But when it comes to making our own decisions- having our own agency, so to speak- I believe women are every bit as capable & responsible as men.  We are 100% capable of saying what we want, how, & when.  And of walking away when a situation makes us uncomfortable.  If we choose to get drunk with someone, knowing we might agree to have sex with them while inebriated, even if we wouldn’t while sober, that’s our choice.  And we need to live with the consequences because we are adults & that’s what adults do.  Now if someone spikes our drink, that’s a whole other story, obviously . . . But if we agree to have sex with someone, for whatever reason, & then regret it later, that isn’t rape.  That’s just poor decision making, plain & simple.  choices

Thoughts?  Please share!  I’d love to hear from you.

Pop Music, Lady Gaga, & Rape


As some of you know from real life & as others may have read on this blog previously, most modern pop music makes my ears bleed.  I literally cannot listen to 99% of current radio stations without wanting to punch the radio . . . So I just don’t listen to the radio anymore since all it does is make me angry because everything I hear is such total CRAP.  The lyrics contain zero substance; the thematic elements, if you can call them that, are vapid & inane; & the talent involved in the music itself is extremely limited, & that’s putting it gently.  Let’s get real: “Call Me Maybe” was nominated for a Grammy . . . If that doesn’t make you want to puke, you probably ought to see a doctor.  Ughhhh.pop music sucks

HOWEVER, ever since my freshman year of college when I first heard “Just Dance” I’ve been a huge fan of Lady Gaga.  Yes, you heard me right.  As much as I love Manson, MIW, Godsmack, & the like (& Eric Church & Kacey Musgraves; can’t forget the two country artists I truly adore), I am also completely enthralled by Gaga’s music . . . It just so happens that many rock stars have recognized the talent of Lady Gaga, Matt Heafy of Trivium & Sully Erna of Godsmack, just to name a few . . . I’ll admit her earlier hits like the aforementioned “Just Dance” as well as “Poker Face” & several others are far from life-changing & basically just typical pop songs, at least as far as lyrical content.  But to me it was immediately obvious, even in those songs, that Lady Gaga is NOT your average pop star.  For one thing, she can actually SING.  Imagine that! 

Lady Gaga Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

Lady Gaga Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

As her career progressed & she put out songs like Speechless (yes, she can actually play piano), “You & I,” & “Born This Way” I became even more impressed with her talents.  I even chose The Edge of Glory for the recessional song at my wedding.  Yes, believe it or not I got away with playing a Lady Gaga song in a Southern Baptist church of all places!  I still find that hard to believe, even four years later . . .lada gaga dark hair

Anyway, this week Lady Gaga has blown me away again.  If you haven’t heard, she released a video for her powerful song Till It Happens to You.  The video is hard to watch because of the subject matter, rape & sexual abuse, but it is extremely powerful.  I completely understand if you can’t stomach watching the video, but everyone should at least listen to the song.  If it doesn’t make you tear up or at least want to cry, you’re insensitive to say the least. lada gaga dog

I find this song particularly relevant because of a sexual assault that happened at a local hospital this past weekend, a hospital which is part of the healthcare organization for which I work, & the less than stellar way the organization has handled this tragedy.  Yes, believe it or not, a hospital employee was sexually assaulted in a public restroom within a hospital & the perpetrator has not yet been caught.  To make matters worse, the hospital was not placed on lockdown & other hospital employees were not properly notified of the event . . . In the past we have always received emails any time a violent crime has occurred anywhere near the hospital or the associated university campus, even those of us working in outlying facilities.  As I understood it, the hospital was required by law to report such crimes.  But in this case, when a sexual assault occurred within the hospital itself, many of us, including me, only found out about it because of the local news or hearing about it from our coworkers who had heard it through the grapevine.  This morning I got an email from my HOA warning us that a sexual offender had been spotted in a neighboring community.  His picture was included as well as the number for the local police department.  After reading that email, I couldn’t help but feel like my HOA is more concerned about the safety of our community than my employer is about the safety of its employees . . . . How disheartening to say the least!causes-of-rape-graph

Of course I realize there are idiots who throw around blatantly false rape charges, like the infamous Duke Lacrosse case.  These morons only serve to bring into question the legitimacy of those who truly were raped or assaulted, which is incredibly sad.  It’s not like victims aren’t shamed & blamed enough as it is. rape

I also realize I may catch a lot of flack for saying this, especially as a woman, but in my opinion if you CHOOSE to drink with someone, knowing your judgment may be impaired because of it, & you end up having sex with that person, provided you wanted & consented to the sex at the time, then I don’t think you have a right to claim rape.  (If you do not consent or are actually passed out & completely incapacitated, that is a whole different story, of course.)  Sorry, ladies, but regretting sex the next morning does not equal rape.  Maybe I’m a traitor to my own gender for saying that, but I just think that if I want to claim equal intelligence & rights within our society I’ve also got to take responsibility for my own actions.  To be clear, I am in NO WAY saying that girls who dress promiscuously or flirt with guys are “asking for it” & deserve to be raped or any such nonsense . . . I’m just saying you don’t hear guys crying rape when they wake up next to a girl who was a lot hotter when they were drunk & not thinking as clearly.  I also realize that fake claims like this are really quite rare, but I do think it’s worth mentioning.no-means-no2

Now that that’s out of the way, I can focus on the meat of the matter.  The truth is that rape & sexual assault/abuse are still rampant in our society . . . I certainly know people, some very dear to me, who have been raped or otherwise sexually abused.  And I’m willing to bet anyone reading this does too.  Or maybe it’s even happened to you . . . To be clear, I don’t think these issues are any worse now than they’ve ever been; I just think we’re more aware of them thanks to the technology we have today.  And sadly I don’t think these issues will ever go away entirely, but I do think we can do better.  And we can do that by raising our boys (& girls) to respect women & themselves (after all, any truly self-respecting person could not harm another in such a brutal way) & to understand that rape & sexual assault/abuse are NEVER acceptable behavior.  Too often our society places the onus of preventing rape on the victim or potential victims.  But that’s just backwards.  Rape is not a women’s issue; it’s a humanity issue.  Thank you, Lady Gaga, for reminding us of that.  Rock on with your bad self.lady gaga piano 1

Raising Discerning Daughters (& Sons)


I read a truly inspiring article last night, the kind that had me nodding along with every word because the author was literally saying the exact same things that have run through my mind a million times.  I’m not even sure why I’m writing anything today because I don’t think I can possibly say this any better than this author already has.  But I’m a writer & this is what I do, so I’m going to add a few of my own thoughts too.  Here’s the link to the original article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/jamie-varon/2014/06/10-ways-all-dads-can-raise-strong-daughters/

With Father’s Day around the corner, this topic seems particularly fitting this week.  Disclaimer: the feelings I have toward this topic do NOT imply any ill will towards how I was raised.  Though I hope my kids will not be as naïve as I was because that can be dangerous too, as I read this article last night I actually found myself thinking, “my parents did a great job raising me.”  It’s the society around us that still managed to instill some of these hurtful, negative ideas into my brain, & sadly I see these ideas around me all the time, in both more “traditional,” conservative cultures as well as in more “liberal” cultures.  Some of these ideas have become so ingrained in our heads that we laugh & joke about them & don’t even realize how harmful they are.  For example, how many times have you heard someone say “Oh, man, she’s a beautiful little girl; you’re going to have to lock her up when she’s a teenager”?  Too many times to count, right?  I’ll never forget the first time I heard something like that.  I was so naïve that I didn’t understand the meaning behind the comment.  As I got older, I figured it out & found it incredibly offensive.  I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I know that just because I am a woman & therefore the physically weaker sex, I’m not something to be locked up or protected from the “big, bad world of men.”  I’m an intelligent woman who is capable of making my own wise decisions.  And I have been for a long time.

lock up daughters

Here are some radical thoughts.

What if we raised our daughters so that they understood the dangers of the world but also how to fend them off?

What if we taught our daughters to discern the difference between a man who really respects, loves, & cares for them & a man who is just trying to use them?

What if fathers role-modeled this good behavior by treating their daughters’ moms in the way they’d want their daughters to be treated by a man someday?

What if we raised our daughters to be independent & ambitious & set goals for their lives & to value men who do the same?  (Maybe then they wouldn’t date so many losers . . . Crazy, I know.)

What if we raised our daughters in such a way that we could actually TRUST them to make good decisions for themselves instead of constantly worrying that they’ll screw up & need our protection?

What if we taught our daughters to never say yes when they mean no or no when they mean yes?  There is no excuse for bad behavior on the part of a man as far as sexual abuse & rape go, but there is no reason to add confusion to what really should be a very simple issue.

On a similar token, what if we taught our daughters to be assertive in all aspects of life instead of passive little girls waiting for someone to tell them what to do?

In the twenty-first century with relatively easy access to safe & effective birth control, what if we realized that the idea that sex is inherently bad & dangerous for women is truly quite antiquated?

What if we raised our daughters to value themselves as more than sexual objects but also to understand that it is perfectly NORMAL & WONDERFUL for them to have sexual needs & desires?

And this is exactly where the topic gets dicey & why these ideas have not taken hold in our society like they should.  Because deep down our society still believes sex is bad for women & that is the underlying reason for such comments I referenced earlier about “locking up our daughters.”  As Kacey Musgraves so cleverly stated in her song Follow Your Arrow, “If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for marriage, you’re a whorable person” (seehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ8xqyoZXCc).  In America we have this strange dichotomy where on the one hand our society throws around highly sexualized images of women in ads & media like it’s nothing.  And on the other hand there is a great underlying current that says that women really aren’t supposed to want or need sex, & if we do, we’re sluts.

follow your arrow 2

Here are some more radical thoughts.  (I’m just full of them today.)

What if we raised our sons to respect women & treat them like the intellectual equals they are?

What if we stopped saying birth control & “safe sex” & rape are “women’s issues” & realized these are actually HUMANITY’S issues because they wouldn’t exist without both genders?

What if we raised our sons to understand that no really does mean no & that having sex with a woman when she truly can’t agree to it is not only wrong & illegal but also disgusting, shameful, & a discredit to their manliness?  (I don’t like the word consent because to me it implies that sex is again inherently bad for women; after all, the only other times we use the word consent are in consenting to a police search, surgery, or something else inherently demeaning, dangerous, or generally unpleasant.)

On a similar token, what if we raised our sons to understand that a real man can find a woman who actually WANTS to have sex with him?  (Maybe then there would be less rape, including date/acquaintance rape.)

What if we taught our sons that being attracted to a girl & being able to respect a girl intellectually are NOT mutually exclusive?  Furthermore, what if we taught our sons that the latter ought to actually be a prerequisite for the former for anything more than a passing whim?

What if we stopped making disparaging comments to our sons such as “Stop being such a pussy!” or “You hit like a girl” as if being female were some horrible lot in life?

What if we raised both our sons & daughters to value each other not so much for their gender but for their shared HUMANITY?  On the inside we’re really all the same.  We all experience the same emotions, the same fears, the same doubts, the same hopes, the same dreams, & the same desire to love & be loved.

father and daughter

I know I’m guilty of over-analyzing things, but I truly believe the way we raise our daughters (& sons) in this country (hell, in this world) needs to change if we ever want to see a decrease in things like rape, sexual violence, teen pregnancy, & general distrust between men & women.  And the next time I hear someone say something that implies that girls need to be sheltered & protected from boys, I might just throw a book across the room.  Just kidding.  But I do hope I’ll have the courage to explain why such ideas are truly so dangerous, not to mention demeaning to women (& to humanity in general, actually).  I know it’s radical but maybe, just maybe, if we raised our children a little differently we could all be so much more than we think we can.  And to my readers, I hope you will have the courage to speak up against these ideas as well.

To end this post I would like to thank my father & all the other fathers out there who have had the courage to raise discerning daughters & sons.  You rock.  We need more of you in this world.

Rape, Sexual Abuse, & Fundamentalist Christianity: An Unlikely Trinity . . . Or Is It?


This post may well anger many readers; in fact in many ways it SHOULD anger you.  If it offends anyone I’m close to, I apologize in advance but the subject at  hand is far too important for me to stay silent.

In the past few weeks I’ve come across countless articles about sexual abuse & rape scandals that have occurred in what might initially seem like a rather shocking location: fundamentalist Christian colleges, namely Patrick Henry College in my home state of Virginia (I referenced this incident in my last blog post: https://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2014/02/27/the-burden-of-a-daughter/), Pensacola Christian College in Florida, & Bob Jones University in South Carolina.  Even though I did not attend any of these colleges, I heard of all of them as a teenager through the church I attended with my parents.  In fact as a teenager I attended, along with my church youth group, a Christian summer camp that was affiliated with BJU.  The camp is called The Wilds & the only thing wild about it is how militantly conservative it is.  I referenced this camp in my last blog post as well but in case you missed that one, let me just explain why this camp & the fundamentalists associated with it bother me so much.  For starters, the dress code is insane for girls & the implication of this is obvious: women are a source of temptation for men & you’d better not even think about tempting a man to sin.  The implication of this is subtle but very damaging: if anything bad ever happens to you involving a man, it’s your fault.  He might be guilty too but you tempted him so you’re to blame as well.  This is also a camp that speaks openly against all contemporary music, including contemporary Christian music.  I’ll never forget one of my counselors telling us that even country music was evil because the “beats were derived from African tribal music” which was clearly “immoral.”  Even at the time, when I was still very steeped in fundamentalist Baptist theology, even then I knew that was a red flag & these people were clearly off base . . . Additionally my sister attended a summer camp at PCC one year.

rape

Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that as saddened as I am by the horrible abuses that are coming to light at these fundamentalist colleges, places that claim to protect their students, to keep them safe, & to guide them on “God’s path,” is that I am honestly not the least bit surprised to hear about these tragic stories.  It’s bad enough that sexual abuse & rape are even occurring at these colleges but what is immeasurably worse is how every single one of these colleges has handled these cases.  At each of the colleges I mentioned, there are cases where students have reported rape or other sexual abuse, often times seeking counseling for something that happened to them as a child or teen at home, only to be silenced, blamed for the attack, &/or expelled from the school for their “immorality.”  Remember, these are schools that have militantly strict honor codes in which sex outside of marriage is grounds for expulsion.  I know that must sound crazy to anyone who didn’t grow up in this kind of culture, but it’s true & I for one have no difficulty believing it.  Naturally the colleges are all categorically denying that they handled these situations in this manner.  Yet none of them are willing to speak to the media about this in any detail.  They’re all hiding behind blanket denial statements that are as empty as most pop music nowadays. 

But the reason none of this really shocks me is that what I’ve realized about these kind of fundamentalist institutions is that they are really all about control.  As I recently read in a fellow blogger’s brilliant post (http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/your-idea-of-love-is-fucked-up/) the idea of “love” taught at these kind of institutions is seriously screwed up.  Furthermore, as I touched on in my last post as well as in my post The Purity Myth from several months ago (https://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2013/10/17/the-purity-myth) the whole Purity Culture in which these fundamentalist schools are engaged is completely despicable in that it assumes the worst of both genders & humanity as a whole.  This Purity Culture teaches women to cover up & be modest which in & of itself doesn’t necessarily sound so bad.  But there’s so much more to it than that.  The idea is that women are something sinful to be hidden because God forbid you show too much flesh & tempt your brother in Christ.  The implication here is that men are animals, animals that once tempted cannot be controlled.  If you believe this, you have far too low an opinion of humanity.

I have no scientific way of testing this theory at present, but as a perpetually curious person I have spoken to many of my friends, both male & female, about this subject.  Regarding my male friends, I have been so bold as to ask them if they have ever been in a situation in which they were about to have sex with a girl & she suddenly said no.  Several of them admitted they had encountered such scenarios & the unanimous reaction was that they stopped.  As disappointed & even annoyed as they might have been at the time, they didn’t proceed with their actions.  I’ve also asked them if seeing a woman in a scantily clad outfit makes them so incredibly lustful that they feel like they can’t control themselves.  The unanimous answer was no.  Now I realize my friends are not necessarily representative of society as a whole, but I like to think there are more men out there very much like them.  If my friends have been in these situations & have proven that they are not uncontrollable animals who once “tempted” cannot be stopped, I think the same can be said for males as a whole.  I have even read articles from men speaking out against this so-called Purity Culture because they have seen through to what this movement really says about men & women & they too are horrified at the implications.  (I read a particularly good one written by a pastor a few months ago but sadly I can’t find it anymore.)

I could further expound on how this whole Purity Culture assumes that sex is inherently bad &/or dangerous for women & how women’s value is all tied up in our virginity, but that’s another post for another day.  My point here is that the Purity Culture has read humanity all wrong.  If covering up & wearing modest clothing really prevented men from lusting after women, then the unfortunate women stuck wearing burkas would be the “safest” of all.  How is it then that these exact countries where women are forced into such ridiculous outfits are often filled with countless horrible stories of rape & abuse?

burkas

Could it be that despite having a different religion, the fundamentalism that drives that culture is again all about CONTROL? 

I think the answer is yes.

It doesn’t matter if it’s fundamentalist Christianity, Islam, or any other religion.  Regardless of religion or denomination, fundamentalism is all about control, just as rape & abuse are all about control.  And that always starts with control of women because, as I discussed with my therapist yesterday, women have a lot of power.  A lot of our power is tied up in our ability to influence others, whether as mothers, sisters, wives, friends, teachers, or anything else.  If women stop believing the things that fundamentalists try to shove down our throats, the whole structure may very well fall apart.  I was not raised in a truly fundamentalist church/society, but it was way too close for comfort.  (At least for my comfort for sure.)  I for one am a woman who refuses to believe in all this fundamentalist nonsense.  And I’m going to use my power to influence others to question these fundamentalist ideas & beliefs so that maybe just one less person will be taken in by their dangerous doctrines.  I know I will never have the power to make these institutions go away or cease to exist entirely, but if my words can somehow encourage even one person to question the indoctrination these institutions enforce, then I know I will have succeeded in life.

In case you are having trouble believing that such “holy” institutions as BJU, PCC, & the entire fundamentalist culture they embody are capable of hiding such horrible things as rape & sexual abuse, check out the following articles. These are just a small sample of what is going on behind the scenes.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2014/03/11/guest-post-god-is-done-with-you-pensacola-christian-college-and-sexual-violence/ (This article mentions both female & male rape victims who were expelled from PCC for their “immorality.”)

http://www.vice.com/read/sexual-abuse-has-become-a-huge-problem-for-americas-bible-colleges

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/05/27/pregnant-teen-victim-recalls-publicly-shamed-church-relocated-colorado/

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116623/sexual-assault-patrick-henry-college-gods-harvard (Patrick Henry College)

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/12/education/christian-school-faulted-for-halting-abuse-study.html?_r=1 (BJU)

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/08/us/bju-student-suspension-irpt/ (BJU again)

The Purity Myth


It took a lot of courage for me to write this, much less actually post it.  This is a topic which most people are not comfortable discussing but it’s a topic that I think is very important & thus bears discussing regardless of how awkward it might be.  Being a nurse I have lost a lot of my sense of what is normal conversation because I am so used to dealing with & talking about every bodily function known to man.  However, I know this post is of a sensitive nature & may provoke a lot of criticism, perhaps even from some people close to me.  But again I think this subject is too important to bypass.  With that being said, here goes.

the purity myth 2

I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book called The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti.  This is one of those books that I can’t help but feel like the author was reading my mind when she wrote it.  I love that feeling!  In this book Valenti asserts (with a great deal of evidence to support her claims) that the “purity or virginity movement” is hurting women, especially young women, by basing their value on their sexuality (or lack thereof) & is thus not much different than the hyper-sexualization of women that the purity movement claims to  hate so much.  What a refreshing concept!  Indeed it’s an idea that I have often considered even before reading this book.  I’ve often thought how paradoxical it is that our society is so hyper-sexualized in the sense of what we see in the media & what we actually discuss in real life.  Why is it that sexualized music videos are the norm & porn is ubiquitous & yet the average American is still shy about discussing real sexual issues?  Why is it common practice for parents to buy their teens (or even younger children) video games that promote violent sexuality such as Grand Theft Auto & yet most parents don’t have the first clue how to have a conversation about sex with their teenagers?  Is it any wonder that teen pregnancy is still rampant in this country especially in light of the fact that a great deal of “sex ed” in this country is still abstinence-only education (I use the term education lightly b/c real sex education involves actually conveying factual information, something that abstinence-only education by its very nature cannot do; I know this from personal experience).

This is the twenty-first century & yet we women are still very much defined by our sexuality.  On one hand the right-wing conservatives value us only as pure virgins who “save ourselves” for marriage, who go so far as to say that a woman who has sex before marriage has “devalued herself.”  Even as a teenager I couldn’t help but see through this argument.  Hello, you’ll probably deny it but you’re telling me that my only worth is in relation to my body.  I’m sorry but I can’t & won’t ascribe to that method of thinking.  If that makes me a whore in your book, I’ll gladly wear that label.  Ha!

On the other hand we have a great deal of the media telling us as women that our only value is in being sexy & desirable to men.  Again our value is based on our bodies & our sexuality.  And again I’m not buying it.  I for one know that I am so much more than my sexuality (while I also know that my sexuality isn’t something to be ashamed of contrary to what the purity movement would say.)

[In case anyone thinks I’m promoting the “hook-up” culture, let me be clear & say that I am not.  I personally am of the belief that sex is something very special that should only be shared between two consenting caring individuals.  But I’m also not saying that marriage is the only scenario under which sex should happen.  That’s just not practical (or even logical in my mind).]

This book also discusses the ridiculous way in which our society deals with rape.  It’s shameful to admit that as a society we still spend a great deal of time blaming the victim, but we do.  Regarding what other crime do you hear people say things like “Well, she was asking for it?”  Or “What was she doing out late at night on that street?”  The hardest thing for me to admit with this argument is that I used to say such things.  I really did.  And I hate myself for buying into such ridiculous notions that men are animals that cannot be stopped.  The older I am & the more I observe society the more I just cannot believe such an idiotic lie.  Men are not naturally uncontrollable sexual beasts any more than women are naturally sexually reticent.  Both are lies created to control women & enforce “traditional” gender stereotypes which in the end are damaging to both men & women.

In many people’s eyes I am probably a feminist.  But I don’t really think of myself that way.  I just think of myself as a humanist.  I want all people everywhere to be respected & treated well not because they are men or women but because they are HUMAN BEINGS.  I’m certainly not a radical feminist who tries to assert that men & women are completely equal.  They aren’t in some ways.  Duh.  Women are not as strong as men physically.  But men can’t have babies.  And without both genders the human race could not perpetuate itself.  (On particularly cynical days when I am thoroughly disgusted with the human race I sometimes wonder if that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but thankfully those days are pretty rare.)  But I do believe that women should receive equal pay for equal work & that the onus for rape prevention should be on teaching men that such behavior is unacceptable.  And I do believe that the purity myth is hurting women as much as the hyper-sexualization culture is also hurting women.  The end result of both is that women are seen as objects: objects without their own opinions, desires (sexual or otherwise), or dreams.  And I for one refuse to believe that my value as a human being is based solely or even principally on my sexuality.

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I’d love to hear your opinions on this matter.  That goes for guys & girls!